DOC looks after 965 backcountry huts around New Zealand, including 28 in South Westland, and is keen to see people enjoying them. However it needs an accurate picture of how many people are using the huts to justify maintaining them.
DOC’s South Westland Operations Manager Wayne Costello says DOC believes the huts are well used by hunters and experienced backcountry trampers but the records from hut books don’t show that.
“We need hunters and trampers to record hut use to ensure the huts keep getting looked after and replaced. We have a brilliant backcountry hut and track network here in South Westland that I’m sure is being well used and appreciated but the hut books don’t demonstrate this,” he says.
DOC have enlisted help from Davey Hughes, the founder of outdoor clothing company Swazi, who is fronting a new tahr hunting video to promote the hut network and get more hunters into the backcountry.
The video was shot in South Westland’s Karangarua Valley and Davey says hunters and trampers are lucky to have such an awesome network of huts in New Zealand.
“The reality is that if people aren’t seen to be using the huts we could lose them. My message to hunters and trampers is it’s not hard to fill in the huts books and pay your hut fees, maybe even offer to do a bit of volunteer work on huts and tracks and let DOC see they are being used. That way we all get to share in this amazing New Zealand backcountry”.
DOC says huts and tracks in the backcountry provide access to large tracts of remote land for people to explore, hunt, fish, climb and kayak. Getting more people out there enjoying these places, and letting DOC know they are appreciated is key to securing their future.